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5 Ways to make food more fun for kids

From personalities, to interests, to eating, my children are two very different little people.

Kids don’t know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. In fact, it seems that kids often form opinions about food that they’ve never even tasted! Moms, how many of you have had a conversation like this:

Thanks to some sort of cruel and ironic twist of fate (or more than likely, my need to learn patience), meal time and feeding kids has been quite a stressful experience for this food loving mom. Here are a few of the ways you can make food a little more exciting.

1. Focus on color.

Not only are bright, colorful foods naturally more appealing to children, but they’re also better for them. Eating a rainbow a day will help your child’s body get the wide variety of nutrients that it needs to grow strong and healthy. And it’s fun

Make a game out of it: see who can eat a rainbow first each day.

Try purchasing different colors of more ordinary foods: purple cauliflower, yellow tomatoes or blood oranges.

2. Maximize their interest

What is your child’s current obsession? Incorporate that into their food.

Madeline has always loved fun shapes. It takes me about 30 seconds extra to cut lunchmeat, cheese, fruits, or vegetables into fun shapes using cookie cutters. Mandolines are also great tools for cutting foods differently. You can make thin slices, matchsticks, or waffle cut.

3. Use fun names

Though it might seem silly to the child-less adults out there, calling food by crazy names can instantly change the attitude about a new food for someone under the age of 8.

I most definitely teach my children the proper names of fruits and vegetables, but we have fun calling food by fun or silly names.

4. Serve it differently

A change in presentation can make all the difference, and doesn’t take much extra time. Tired of sliced pears or apple wedges? Make fruit kebabs instead. Sticks filled with cubes of brightly colored fruit are always fun. Include a healthy dip option as well, such as yogurt. Kids love to dip! You can even make vegetable kebabs. In the summertime, cherry tomatoes and bite-sized pieces of mozzarella are delicious treats.

Miniaturized foods are always fun, too. Mini pizzas on English muffins, bite sized sandwiches, or mini muffins are sure to catch some attention. Serve casseroles in individual serving sized dishes.

When fresh fruit options seem dull in the winter, prepare smoothies using frozen fruits. I have taken to preparing a large batch once a week and per Food for My Family’s suggestion, storing them in the freezer in Ball Plastic 8-Ounce Freezer Jars.

5. Involve them in food selection and prep

I’m one of the first to admit how much I dislike taking my kids to the grocery store. Taking young kids grocery shopping and involving them in the food preparation process are both important ways to teach them about good food choices and make food more fun.

Personally I can only handle bringing one child at a time on a trip, but when I do, I like to keep them involved in the process. I’ll let them pick one or two new things each trip that they think they would like to try.

With younger kids, point out the names of the produce. Use produce to practice colors since there are so many different colors and types. With older children you can talk to them about why a certain fruit or vegetable is good for you in a non-threatening way. (i.e. carrots are good for your eyes). Appeal to their developing reasoning skills.

Involving them in food selection and preparation gives children an opportunity to see the process of making food and spend time with me, and that definitely makes things fun (although often messy too.).

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